A subtle breeze from an open window brushed across Catherine’s bare arms as she lay flung half in and half out of the covers and in sleep she shivered and reached for a sheet to pull over herself. Her dreams were full and vivid and she lived them as though they were real.
A coppery moon hung low in the sky, wisps of cloud lending it a hat, a moustache a beard. The night was still, eerie, starless as sombre as the sudden turn of events that brought Catherine’s dreams to conclusion. Bathed in sweat she woke, screamed, fought the quilt around her, fumbled for the lamp and sat blinking as light illuminated the room before her.
“Oh God it was a dream.” Her heart thudded. “Just a dream Cathy.” She tried to laugh but the sound was flat, dead and cut short by a memory swift and sure that reminded her that there had been truth in the dream. “Oh no! No, no, no!” She wailed flinging herself against the pillows and sobbing hard. Memories rushed over her whipped and galloped with thudding hooves against her temples. “Oh God, Vincent how am I going to live without you?” Fast and furious her tears followed, gushing torrents that plastered her hair to her cheeks, her forehead and eyes. Absently she brushed strands away so that she might see, look out to where the moon hung lazy and low in the sky, and found herself standing by the balcony door, not even realising she had made the short journey from the bed. Her throat aching, her heart raw Catherine clutched at the doorjamb and willed him to come to her. “Vincent, Vincent.” Her heart cried until fresh words erupted mightily through clenched lips, “No, I can’t believe it. I don’t want to believe it.”
How could something so wonderful have turned so sour? How in one short hour had all of her dreams been realised only to be left with such emptiness such bitterness? Gladly she would have traded those fleeting seconds of pleasure in exchange for a lifetime of platonic love rather than face what she now faced - a lifetime alone with her memories.
“Oh Vincent!” Holding the doorjamb she let her body slip to the floor and there in a crumpled heap she sobbed till she thought her heart would die and knew that would be preferable to what she now faced a future without the man she loved, a hollow senseless future and a life alone.
How long she sat there she did not know. The passage of time was seen only in the parting of that coppery moon to the approach of another luminary bright and warm that licked at her tender skin and reminded her that another new day had begun.
Catherine stirred, eyes closed face to the sun, allowing its warmth to brush over her skin and revitalise a tired mind.
He had never seen the sun, would never see it now. Fresh tears forced their way beneath golden lashes as further thoughts of her truelove chased their way through her mind.
The telephone rang. A shrill sound that forced her hands to clap over her ears in a bid to shut out the sound. Whoever it was could ring back later. Wrapped in sorrow Catherine had nothing to impart that would make any sense to anyone that owned a similar receptacle. For none of her friends knew of Vincent and would never know him now. “Oh God, oh God. You have to stop thinking such things, Cathy.” She told herself loudly over the shrill sound blasting around her. Her hands held fast to her ears and she was left in disbelief when the ringing stopped and she took them slowly away, hesitantly as if she believed that at any moment the telephone would begin ringing again. Only when she was satisfied that the caller would no longer bother her did she replace her hands to her lap. There she stared down at them. Hands so ordinary, no different from the hands of other people she knew, except for one and she remembered suddenly another time when Vincent had stood there on her balcony his heart as broken as hers was now, and she had held his hands and told him sincerely, ‘Vincent…these are my hands.” Her heart reacted violently to that memory as another galloped close behind. Those hands brushing her skin, warm and soft rough yet gentle touching, soothing, caressing, and the poignant yearning to know such again was almost impossible to bear.
Great rending sobs tore at her then leaving her limp with longing, the need to curl up and die never so strong as now, not even when Father had turned to her, shaken his head and with tears welling, he’d stood pitiful and haggard as he’d uttered words she had never thought to hear…I’m sorry Catherine, so sorry…” His tears had fallen then and she had rushed to his side supporting him before he fell and they had clung together and let the threatened tears fall, taking solitude in each other already feeling the loss of other arms, another embrace and aching to feel them again.
Opening her eyes Catherine blinked and turned her head away from the sun, looking into her apartment surprised at the light within and knowing it was later than she thought. Already the back walls of her apartment were cast with a golden hue that signified to her that it was well past noon. Where had the hours gone? She stretched slowly, wincing as kinks unfolded, stood and stamped her feet upon the cold terrace floor to rid her legs of the pins and needles that had started up as the first pang of cramp had made itself known.
Slowly her body returned to her bidding and she was able to walk back into the apartment, going only as far as one of her two sofas, before sitting down again and curling her legs beneath her. There she sat facing the balcony, her mind a blank, staring at the noonday sky as if it wasn’t there. As if she wasn’t there. In her minds eye she wasn’t.
Spiralling from the world above Catherine sank down, down to the subterranean world beneath the city streets, to visit with all the places that she loved. The waterfall and the overhanging ledge where she and Vincent had spent so many happy hours together, the whispering gallery, the Great Hall where they had danced at Winterfest, Father’s chamber, Vincent’s chamber…in her minds eye Catherine visualised every ornament, book and candle in its place and knew nothing would ever change. Those things would settle there till time indefinite, no one would have a heart to touch or remove them from now unto eternity, thus his chamber would become a shrine, to him… to them.
Her mind wandered. There was one other place that would hold her heart forever. A sandy cave deep in the bowels of the earth, warm and sheltered from the wind and damp, the place where she and Vincent had made love the first time…the last time…the only ever time.
Her heart reacted violently to the memory, the most poignant of them all, and one she could never share with anyone, not even Father. It would be her secret, the one she would cherish for the rest of her days held safe, nurtured within a heart that would never love again. For Vincent was dead, gone, lost to her and never again would he visit with her on her balcony, never again would he tilt his head and let his long beautiful hair fall over lagoon blue eyes to drown in, never again would he do any of the wondrous things he was renowned for…never again would he love her…
Fresh tears came then…cascading in torrents down Catherine’s cheeks…she let them fall…there was healing in tears…but not this time…never this time…
To be continued in Chapter One.